Working From The Ground Up: Mario’s Journey

Working From The Ground Up: Mario’s Journey


Before coming to The Fortune Society, Mario McCaa was sustaining himself but not building toward a future. While re-entering the community after incarceration, he was working minimum wage jobs and struggled to find direction. “[My life was] at a low level,” he says, “Fortune made me think bigger.” Since coming to Fortune three months ago, his participation in the Substance Use and Employment Services programs helped him maintain sobriety and build marketable career skills.

“I’m working from the ground up,” Mario says, “I’m looking for work, I’m working on healthy relationships long term, and I’m working to get out of my criminal situation.”


To accomplish these goals, however, he first needed a strong foundation. Success is most attainable if one has met basic needs: food, shelter, and healthcare. Thanks to our Benefits Application Assistance program (Single Stop), Mario was able to access these vital services.

Mario, like many of our participants, was eligible for a number of critical community resources and public benefits but wary of navigating the bureaucratic red tape to obtain them. “I have done it before and know that it’s a hassle,” he explains, “[The Single Stop] team got me my unemployment benefits, food stamps, and my Medicaid package.” Benefits Coordinator Nicholas Posada did the time-consuming work of making phone calls, setting up appointments, and completing numerous forms and applications.

This assistance allowed Mario to quickly receive services and gain a safety net that lets him focus on reentry.

“The benefits are helping me maintain my living, support myself, and be self-sufficient.”


Now, Mario is pursuing big goals. Through Employment Services, he has learned interview and resume skills. He recently finished a 30-hour OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) training course, which opens the doors to careers in construction. He plans to get additional training and certifications, and work as an engineer in the future.

Mario credits Fortune’s reentry services for helping him find this newfound focus in life.

“Fortune does a lot. Fortune has Substance Use and Single Stop where they can help you get all your paperwork done. And they can help with employment. It’s like all that in one. They help you better yourself,” he says, “I always brag about Fortune.”


Mario McCaa, a participant at The Fortune Society who found vital resources through our Benefits Application Assistance program

*Written by Carmen Rojas, Development and Communications Associate at The Fortune Society

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